Virgin Islands National Guard commander concludes visit to Kosovo
February 7, 2010
- Members of the 661st Military Police Company arrived in Kosovo in late October as part of a yearlong deployment with KFOR-12.
- In 1980, Rivera served as platoon leader for the 661st MP, and then followed that up with a stint as the unit's commander.
- Rivera is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran.
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Brig. Gen. Renaldo Rivera, adjutant general of the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING), recently wrapped up his visit to Kosovo, where his territory's Soldiers are deployed on NATO peacekeeping missions at this base.
Rivera made the trip to show support and appreciation for the work and sacrifices made by all Virgin Islands Soldiers in the Balkans region.
"It was an extremely rewarding and enlightening visit for me and my staff, as we were able to see firsthand the great difference our Soldiers are making on the streets in Kosovo and here at Camp Bondsteel," Rivera said. "It's amazing to view up close how much the Virgin Islands Soldiers and the other NATO peacekeepers are appreciated by the people of this region. All people of the Virgin Islands should be proud of the performance of their National Guard Soldiers here in Kosovo."
Members of the 661st Military Police Company arrived in Kosovo in late October as part of a yearlong deployment with KFOR-12 (Kosovo Forces), Multi-National Battle Group-East (MNBG-E). As a young first lieutenant, in 1980, Rivera served as platoon leader for the 661st MP, and then followed that up with a stint as the unit's company commander.
"I would like to take the time to say a heartfelt thanks to Brig. Gen. Rivera and his command staff for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to share quality time with the unit here at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, said Capt. Arthur S. Hector, St. Croix, commander of the 661st MP Co. "All of the Soldiers truly appreciated the visit and will forever remember it."
On his first day on the ground in Kosovo, Rivera ate breakfast with several Virgin Island Soldiers, before meeting up with Capt. Hector and other unit leaders at Camp Bondsteel.
From there, it was off to a meeting with Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, MNBG-E commander; and Command Sgt. Maj. Jack W. Cripe, senior enlisted Soldier with MNBG-E.
The next day, Rivera was flown by UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to Pristina/Prishtina for a whirl-wind tour of the KFOR headquarters for a high-level meeting with the commander of KFOR, German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler.
Rivera returned to Camp Bondsteel for a formal dinner with MNBG-E leaders, which was also attended by the Governor of North Dakota, the Honorable John Hoeven, and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota Army National Guard, who also were visiting the area.
The Soldiers of the 661st MP Co. are joined in MNBG-E by Soldiers from nearly 40 other states. MNBG-E also is represented by NATO peacekeeping Soldiers from Greece, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.
"I was very impressed with the general coming to visit to see his troops," said Sgt. Bruce Flamon, St. Thomas, a patrol supervisor with 661st. " I was especially glad to be asked to be part of his press conference that was broadcast back home. During the press conference, I got a chance to talk about my role here in Kosovo and at Camp Bondsteel as an (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) representative for my unit."
Rivera was joined in Kosovo by Command Sgt. Maj. Barry E. Fredericks, Virgin Islands command sergeant major; Lt. Col. Ova "Bud" O'Hair III, inspector general; Lt. Col. Deborah Lobbenmeier, battalion commander; and 2nd Lt. Wanda I. Williams, aide de camp to Rivera.
"I know that Brig. Gen. Rivera and his staff would not have wanted to miss this kind of opportunity," said MNBG-E commander Dohrmann, "but I also must say that it truly means a lot to the Soldiers on the ground here in Kosovo whenever the leaders of their individual states and territories come here to show their support and appreciation the exceptional effort they put out every day so far from home."
Rivera is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who served with honor and distinction in the Virgin Islands Police Department for 10 years and the VING for 22 years. The pinnacle of his military education was graduation from the prestigious U. S. Army War College, where he honed and advanced his military skills.
Rivera's career began with his enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1968.
Multi-National Battle Group - East is a U.S- led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNBG-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.
Please contact the MNBG-E Public Affairs office for media engagements or to follow-up on this information.